The Long History of Hypergamy and “Marrying Up”

The Long History of Hypergamy and “Marrying Up” Advertisement By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.  | Apr 8, 2021 You’ve heard the terms before: Gold digger. Trophy wife. They most often apply to women whose social or economic status is “lower” than their husbands.’ You might even know of a few couples where these terms could apply. But […]

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The Long History of Hypergamy and “Marrying Up”

By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.
 | 

You’ve heard the terms before: Gold er. Trophy wife. They most oft apply to wom whose social or economic status is “lower” than their husbands.’ You might ev know of a few couples where these terms could apply.

But this act of a woman vying for “higher status” wh marrying also has a scholarly name and a long history. It’s called hypergamy (hī-pûr′gə-mē). And while the Oxford dictionary defines hypergamy in neutral terms — “the action of marrying or forming a ual relationship with a person of a superior sociological or educational background” — social scitists explain it in a more gdered way.

“[Hypergamy] is wh m marry wom of lower status than themselves,” says tine Schwartz, professor in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Or in other words, wh wom marry m of higher status, whether it’s related to education, income or occupation.

Scholars have also looked at marrying up in other ways, for example geographically. In the introduction to the journal article “Cross-Border Marriages: Gender and Mobility in Transnational Asia,” author Nicole table explains global hypergamy as “the of brides from more remote and less developed locations to increasingly developed and less isolated ones.”

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We might not know just how far back the tradition of m partnering with wom of lower status than themselves goes. Hypergamy can be se as a natural response to wom’s inability in early history to earn a living and “marriage was the only way a woman determined her status in life,” Kay Hymowitz wrote for the Institute for Family Studies.

What we do know is the term hypergamy likely has origins in the Hindu tradition of wom wanting to marry m from higher castes. It was first used in 1881 in the “Panjab Castes,” a based on the csus report of the Panjab province of British India by Sir Dzil Ibbetson. It describes a situation in which a man sought to marry his daughter to a “member of a tribe” superior to his, anthropologist T. Mohanadoss explains in the article “Hypergamy and Its Inherent Contradictions.” Mohanadoss writes that hypergamy is associated with “the assumption that man is superior to woman.” Interestingly, while this type of marriage raises the status of the bride-giver — the father — it also admits his inferiority to his in-laws.

But if all wom are striving to marry up, hypergamy must evtually lead to a situation where the wom at the top of the social ladder won’t have anyone to marry, and the m at the bottom won’t have wom to marry either. That’s what scholars in the 1970s found anyway, Mohanadoss writes.

But that’s where hypogamy comes in.

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It does happ that m marry wom of a higher status, and wom “marry down.” There’s a name for that too: hypogamy. The sociology dictionary defines it as “a marriage betwe a male of low status to a female of higher status.” There is ev a word for marriage betwe people with similar characteristics and statuses. Did you figure out that it has to be homogamy?

What’s changed since that 19th-ctury anthropological study in the Panjab? Are we more homogamous today? Or are wom still focused on marrying up?

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In many countries, the practice of hypergamy has shifted since the earlier research, and part of the reason has to do with the changing roles of wom in education and the workplace.

“We see that all over the world, this isn’t true in every case, but the geral pattern is that there’s much less hypergamy than there has be in the past,” says Schwartz, who contributed to an article on this topic, “The End of Hypergamy: Global Trends and Implications.”

In plty of societies, it is now more common for wom to be more educated than m. That’s be the trd in the United States since around the 1990s, but it wasn’t really recognized until the early 2000s. But wom in the United States now have higher average education attainmt than m.

That means wom sometimes have little choice but to marry m with less education than they have. In fact, according to Margarita Chudnovskaya and Ridhi Kashyap, who wrote the academic journal article “Is the End of Educational Hypergamy the End of Status Hypergamy? Evidence from Sweden,” in the United States and most European countries, “the prevalce of educational hypogamy (wom ‘partnering down’) now exceeds that of educational hypergamy (m ‘partnering down’).”

Add to that the 2020 finding from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that wom make up more than half of the non-farm labor market in the U.S., and it might seem like hypergamy is on its way out, at least in America.

But there is another factor to conr, and that is economic — a gender pay gap to be more specific. “It is true that in the United States it’s now more common for a woman to have more education than her husband than the other way around, but it’s still less common for wom to outearn their male partners,” says Schwartz.

For couples married betwe 2005 and 2009, just 30 perct of wives made more than their husbands, she says. “There is a definitely a differce in the U.S. at least betwe education and income.”

Chudnovskaya and Kashyap’s Swedish study found that in various types of couples, ev wh the woman had higher education, occupational prestige and social class, the man was still a higher earner. “One reasonable guess is that m’s income advantage is due not to the persistce of hypergamy but rather to the gder wage gap, which sits at about 14 perct in Swed,” writes Hymowitz.

Today, educational hypogamy is more common, but hypergamy still rules in the financial realm.

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With all this gder-specific hyper- and hypogamy, where does that leave same- or non-binary couples? Schwartz says we can still talk about these types of relationship statuses.

“It’s just wh one partner has higher status than the other,” she explains. And research has shown that members of same- couples td be more differt from each other in terms of education.

In her article “Cruising to Familyland: Gay Hypergamy and Rainbow Kinship,” sociologist Judith Stacey says that hypergamous relationships happ more frequtly among “those who breach ual norms” than among heterouals and “gay m can cruise their way to creative, multicultural permutations of hypergamous kinship.”

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“There is a perception that still exists that successful wom who are highly educated and highly paid won’t be able to find partners,” Schwartz says. But societies around the world have changed. In response to these demographic trds, increasingly relationships are forming where wom have higher status than their partners, and studies are showing that these marriages do last.

A study published in 2018 used Belgian csus and register data for 458,499 marriages contracted betwe 1986 and 2001. It found that neither hypogamy nor homogamy was associated with higher divorce rates. It was educationally hypergamous marriages — those in which the husband was more highly educated than the wife — that had the highest rates of divorce.

How do m feel about economic hypogamy? Better and better it seems. In 1980, 41 perct of male college studts said it wouldn’t bother them at all if their female partners earned more than they did. By 1990, 60 perct of them said they were OK with it.

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The Long History of Hypergamy and “Marrying Up”


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The Long History of Hypergamy and “Marrying Up” Advertisement By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.  | Apr 8, 2021 You’ve heard the terms before: Gold digger. Trophy wife. They most often apply to women whose social or economic status is “lower” than their husbands.’ You might even know of a few couples where these terms could apply. But […]

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How To Really REALIZE DREAMS COME TRUE?

Happiness is for those who plan well and pursue. A profound among us have been proven those who have true dream to live for likely REALIZED IT. It is just simply the person working toward the DREAM days and night until accomplishment. There is a phrase of efficiency a head of you. Steps and obstacles at first seem tremendous. However, just with some times those difficult steps and challenges are so easy performance for you. There are also plenty of tools including VISUALIZATIONS and helps are around you.

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